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Pierre Omidyar

Founder and Chairman, eBay

If you think about it, commerce and trade is at the base of all human activity, and it's a bit of an exaggeration, but I like to talk about, you know, in the old days people would bring their stuff to market and they'd do business and then they'd go back to their hillside homes or wherever. And eventually they were doing this enough that you had to build a wall around them to protect them, and that was the birth of cities and so forth. And again, gross generalizations and simplifications, but fundamentally everything we do in human activities is related to trade and there's something, I think, that's wired in human beings that drives us to commerce. I'm not sure what it is exactly, but the human side. So that's the human side I'm referring to. With eBay it became apparent very quickly, because in order to do a trade -- a transaction with someone -- you actually have to get to know that person and build a trusting relationship first. So you have to build trust before you will enter into a transaction. And so in order to build trust you have to communicate. You have to get to know one another and so very quickly I started getting letters about -- actually some of the early letters were more negative. They were, you know, "This guy is a jerk," kind of thing, and I said, "Okay, there's some human element to that I wasn't expecting. Please be nice. You know, not everyone is a jerk. Maybe there's a misunderstanding. Give people the benefit of the doubt." But you know, so very, very quickly I learned that it was actually the human element that was really driving it more than the commerce. So that was very interesting.
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Pierre Omidyar

Founder and Chairman, eBay

Pierre Omidyar: I founded the company on the notion that people were basically good, and that if you give them the benefit of the doubt you're rarely disappointed. And I'm thankful that, in fact, statistics have borne that out to be true. And it is actually 99.999 percent of our transactions happen without a case of reported fraud. There are 30 cases out of every one million transactions where somebody actually goes to the trouble to report fraud, so presumably there's some unreported level as well that's higher than that and people don't bother. But that is -- there's no word to describe it. It's far more than a large majority or most, or whatever. I mean, it's practically all transactions happen without a problem. Now, as the absolute number of transactions have gone up -- this is another challenge that we faced -- is that the absolute number of problems has also gone up, and so with the attention that is paid on the company -- I mean, you can open the newspaper on any given day and read about the latest problem that's related to eBay somehow. Whether it's some kind of strange new item being offered on the site, or an illegal item or whatever. And so we've had to evolve our strategies and our policies from what I built in the beginning, which was a self-policing community of people, to one where we take a more active role in trying to help identify the bad actors. We work with the authorities to go find them and make sure they don't come back and this sort of thing.
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Pierre Omidyar

Founder and Chairman, eBay

If you think about a retail environment, where people are buying things in a retail environment, the retailer has a whole bunch of control. They choose the products. They design the store or the catalogue. They train the salespeople. They control the experience. And if there's a problem with a salesperson, they retrain and so on and so forth. At eBay, our customer's experience is based on how one customer interacts with another customer, okay, and you can't control customer behavior. So the only thing you can do is have a certain set of values that you encourage people to adopt, and the only way your customers are going to adopt those values is if they see that you're living those values as well. So when I say that I believe people are basically good, it's because I believe people are basically good. I mean, it's not something that I came up with for eBay. And if I say that you should treat people with the benefit of the doubt, it's because I believe in that as a way of life. And we have to do it internally at eBay at the company as well, because if we don't, then eventually that seeps through, and customers will see that and that will harm our business, because we can't control customer behavior. So our business is based on that.
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Rosa Parks

Pioneer of Civil Rights

Rosa Parks: I don't remember feeling that anger, but I did feel determined to take this as an opportunity to let it be known that I did not want to be treated in that manner and that people have endured it far too long. However, I did not have at the moment of my arrest any idea of how the people would react.
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Suzan-Lori Parks

Pulitzer Prize for Drama

Suzan-Lori Parks: It does have to do with having faith in your voice. It does. Sticking to your guns. Believing in yourself. Realizing that your "self" isn't -- let me see if I can spell it right -- "y-o-u-r, little s, e-l-f. "It's not that. It's "y-o-u-r -- capital S e-l-f. Your Self includes everybody. You're part of the huge universal community at all times, even when you meet somebody you don't like, who isn't like you. I was telling the honor delegates today that the concept of radical inclusion means you have to include even folks you don't like, which is hard. Having faith in your Self, having faith in your own voice, things like working hard. He wasn't just sitting with his feet up on the desk. He was a hard-working writer. Service, the idea of service, the idea of being there for the people. Not just maybe your own people -- you know, African American women under the age of 44. No. Your people are, again, the entire people, entire world.
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Suzan-Lori Parks

Pulitzer Prize for Drama

Suzan-Lori Parks: The fine print of every prize you win -- no matter for what, the Gold Medal in the Olympics or what, doesn't matter -- the fine print is that you're actually being summoned to spread kindness and compassion in the universe. That's actually what you're being called to do. So winning a Pulitzer is actually, "I'm being called to spread kindness and compassion." So that's what the real burden, if you will, is about. It's not about writing. Writing is just the task I've been given to do, so I can do something, while I'm actually being summoned continually to spread kindness and compassion.
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